In today’s challenging and competitive business environment, it pays to be proactive, not reactive. It has often been observed that companies that are keen on finding opportunities while investing in abiding with the law seek to become the thought leaders and trendsetters and usually thrive and not wither and die.
According to a recent survey, over 60 million Americans live with one or more disabilities. The most common disability among that population includes reduced mobility (impacting one in seven U.S. adults), and the other is impaired vision.
The share of the U.S. population with visual impairment is expected to soar, and the numbers may grow as big as 8 million adults by 2050. Currently, more than 3.4 million adults across the United States are legally blind. This calls for a renewed stress on business compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which has been around for over 30 years.
Here are a few recent facts to keep in mind before starting a discussion on when and if you should hire a website accessibility consultant:
According to a recent survey, Amazon alone accounts for 32% of all sales of household consumable goods in the United States. If you have not taken your business online, it is simply a matter of when and not if you will need to do so.
All of this also translates readily to dollars and cents since most of the disabled population, 1 in 4 U.S. adults, also shops online for everyday consumable products and services.
Two significant demographic pressures affect the labor force and market in the Western World today: the aging workforce and the shortage of younger talent available to replace them. Businesses consistently report challenges in recruiting the skilled talent they need in their organizations.
In a recent internal study, Accenture, the global leader in business consulting services, discovered that Persons with disabilities are a large, untapped source of talent.
In the year 2018 alone, over 2,250 web accessibility lawsuits were filed. That’s a growth of 177% from the year before, and this number is expected to rise another 7% yearly in the years to follow. The cases were not limited to small businesses. It targeted some of the well-known brands worldwide. In 2019 the web accessibility legislation had its first case approaching the Supreme Court.
Towards the end of 2020, the Online Accessibility Act (H.R. 8478) was introduced. The act presented in the House of Representatives is seeking an amendment to the ADA that prohibits discrimination by “any private owner or operator of a consumer-facing website or mobile application” against individuals with disabilities. The bill seeks to firmly establish web accessibility standards (WCAG 2.0 Level A and Level A.A.) for consumer-facing websites and mobile apps. However, it should be noted that the bill’s author recognized that complete compliance with these standards (WCAG 2.0 Level A and Level A.A.) was not mandatory as it can be costly and difficult to achieve for SEM. The bill is expected to mandate substantial compliance to avoid potential liability.
Interestingly, even the authors of the WCAG recognize that complete compliance with their standards may not be practical or possible for all organizations.
Depending on the complexity of accessibility challenges, the urgency of compliance, and keeping the above factors in mind, your organization will have to decide to start looking at accessibility consultants.
Advantages of Hiring Accessibility Consultants:
- An accessibility consultant can empower your company to meet compliance requirements cost-effectively to reduce their risk of encountering legal difficulties.
- Hiring an accessibility consultant will show your commitment to inclusivity and deliver an equal service level to all clients. This impacts the reputation of businesses and organizations across diverse sectors, from retail and catering to entertainment. Accessibility regulations apply to brick-and-mortar locations and websites alike.
- As exhibited by the discussion above about a pending bill to update ADA in Congress, the ADA is subject to changes regularly. Ignorance about the law is not an excuse: it’s up to your business to comply with the latest amendments and avoid clumsy oversights.
- A well-heeld accessibility consultant can thoroughly evaluate accessibility needs, determine priorities, and chart a path to your goals.
- From transportation to retail to fashion to food, businesses from every vertical have attempted and failed to get around web accessibility requirements. Attempted arguments such as equal services are provided elsewhere or whether the company does (or doesn’t) operate a physical space and is thus exempted from providing an accessible website. The website is not an essential part of the business, and it has not held up in a courtroom. Having a proactive plan with a trained accessibility consultant is a proactive first step in avoiding expensive legal exposure.
In conclusion, we have listed the related industry facts on the trends in accessibility compliance, and the advantages accessibility brings with them to help you decide if it is a sensible investment for your organization to hire one.